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Smoking tobacco has been around for thousands of years and is deeply rooted in the social fabric of communities around the world. Unfortunately, most consumers today don’t consume the same pure tobacco plants that were once used by our ancestors. Over the last few centuries, much of the tobacco market has become interwoven with harmful chemical additives, that have fostered addictions and deadly side effects. Of course, we do not encourage smoking because of adverse health effects. However, if you are already pursuing options to cultivate the plant yourself to escape the rising costs of cigarettes and chemical additives, growing Tobacco in aquaponics gardens may be a novel idea.
In this article, we have listed the essential information that can help you grow your Tobacco in an aquaponics system. Make sure to check your local laws and government regulations to ensure that you won’t have issues growing Tobacco for personal consumption in your city.
Why Grow Tobacco in Your Aquaponics Garden?
Tobacco plant or Nicotiana tabacum, belongs to the Solanaceae family and surprisingly related to tomatoes and potatoes. According to records, the plant was first cultivated around 6000 BC. It originated in America and was introduced in Europe in the 15th century.
The plant is commonly associated with recreational smoking. However, in recent years, the experts realized the potential of this plant. It is now used in creating biofuel, oil, and is famous for being a natural pesticide. Having said that, even non-smokers are now growing Tobacco in aquaponics gardens.
Types of Tobacco
There are three common types of Tobacco. These are Virginia, Burley, and Oriental Tobacco. Let’s talk about each type and how it differs from one another:
This is the most popular type of Tobacco. Other people refer to it as the bright Tobacco due to its golden-yellow color. It was named after the US state where the plant was first cultivated. Virginia Tobacco has a high sugar content, and its nicotine has a stronger effect on the brain. This type of Tobacco has a bight aroma and a lighter taste.
Burley Tobacco has a bitter taste and has little to no trace of sugar. This variety is commonly grown in Malawi, Uganda, USA, and Central America.
Oriental Tobacco is a smaller variety and is extremely aromatic. It is found in Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.
How to Serve Tobacco From Your Aquaponics Garden
The most popular uses of Tobacco have been for smoking, snuffing, and chewing. However, the plant is now being utilized for other commercial purposes such as biofuels and oil. Other types of Tobacco are used for perfumery and even in pharmacology. These less commonly known benefits are some of the reasons why people are looking into growing their own Tobacco plants.
If you want to use it as a natural pesticide for your garden, you can mix Tobacco leaves with minced garlic in a drenched soil. This should keep away snails, caterpillars, and centipedes from your other plants.
Health Benefits of Tobacco
Tobacco is not popular for its health benefits. However, the leaves of Tobacco have high levels of amino-acids. Scientists have also revealed that modifying Tobacco plants can produce medicines for a number of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. It can also be beneficial for the following:
- Ground Tobacco can be an alternative for minor cuts
- Cleans nasal passages
- Relieves allergies
We strongly recommend consulting your doctor first to confirm the effectiveness of Tobacco.
Cultivating Tobacco in Your Aquaponics Garden
It is important that you check your local regulations about planting Tobacco in your region. In most cases, you are only allowed to do so for personal consumption. In addition, you may have to wait for years before you can consume Tobacco. But if you are still willing to push through, then we have here some practical tips on growing Tobacco in aquaponics gardens.
Aquaponic System Types
The right pH level is important for Tobacco plants. It will thrive on pH level 5.8 and might face issues if it goes higher than 6.5. Make sure to use a high quality pH meter.
Water and Air Temperature
Tobacco plants love dry and warm conditions. It will grow best in temperatures between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and will require at least three months of frost-free period.
If you live in colder areas, you should use an electric patio heater to maintain the right temperature for your plants.
Ideally, you need to have at least two to three feet of spacing in between your Tobacco plants.
Tobacco requires a well-drained growing medium, such as expanded clay.
You need to expose your Tobacco plants to sunlight. Without the right amount of sunlight, you might produce thinner Tobacco leaves. This, however, is not an issue if you plan to use your Tobacco as a cigar wrapper.
Not all fish types are suitable for aquaponics. It will help if you consider the plants you are growing and even the overall condition. For growing Tobacco in aquaponics gardens, you need fish that can thrive on warm temperatures. They should also provide an ample amount of nutrients as Tobacco plants are heavy feeders. We recommend Tilapia, Catfish, and Carp.
You can also include prawns and shrimps to maintain a healthy system in your fish tanks.
Your Tobacco seeds need a temperature between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate. When you see your plants beginning to have flowers, it is necessary to top your Tobacco. Topping is the process of removing the bud so that the upper leaves will get bigger.
After three or four months, your Tobacco plant should be ready for harvesting. When ready, cut at the stalk while ensuring that the leaves are still attached. During this time, the lower leaves are partially deteriorated.
You can now cure your plants to prepare them for consumption. Ideally, you should cure it in a humid and well-ventilated space. Take note though that curing and aging for home growers can take years depending on the environment.
There are several pests that could prey on your Tobacco plants. This includes aphids, hornworms, grasshoppers, cutworms, and green June beetle. We only recommend using biological controls to fight off the pests. Using chemical pesticides can affect your Tobacco plant and, at the same time, can be dangerous to your fish.
As home growers, it is practical to choose disease-resistant Tobacco plants such as Burley KT 212LC, KT 210LC, and KT 209LC. Tobacco is prone to having Black root rot, Witchweed, Broomrape, Black shank, Fusarium wilt, Downy mildew, and Bacterial leaf spot.
And before you get your Tobacco seeds, here are some additional tips and facts that can help you enjoy your Tobacco:
- Unaged Tobacco tends to have a less desirable flavor
- When curing, hang your Tobacco leaves and maintain a temperature of 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit
- You can use Tobacco as an ornamental plant